"Thank God we always had Simão", said the established coach Giovanni Trapattoni in 2004/05, a season in which Benfica finished as National Champion. 14 year later, and taking into consideration the fantastic figures from another Portuguese attacker, the same can be said about Rafa.
With goals, dribbles, shots, crosses, and assists, Rafa has been a relevant piece in Bruno Lage’s formation and this is already the best season of his career.
The goal scored against Rio Ave in the penultimate round (33) of the Liga NOS was the 16th of the number 27 in the National Championship and the 20th in the season. Since 2004/05 that a Portuguese player did not score 20 or more goals in a season with the Sacred Mantle.
The last Portuguese players to score 20 or more goals in a season playing for the eagles had been Rui Águas (26 in 1990/91), João Vieira Pinto (23 in 1995/96), Nuno Gomes (20 in 1999/2000) and Simão Sabrosa (22 in 2004/05).
Goals, dribbles and... he is one game shy of 100
The data from the platform Sofascore show that Rafa is one of the players from the Liga NOS that carries out more successful dribbles (60), with an efficacy percentage of around 65%.
Apart from being the 3rd best goal scorer of the National Championship (Benfica’s 2nd-best, only beaten by Seferovic) with 16 goals, Benfica’s number 27 is the 5th most influential player (goal and assists) of the competition, with a direct hand in 18 goals, in a top 5 with four Benfica players and topped by Pizzi, who has participation in 31 goals.
Apart from the records he has been breaking, in the dribbling, goals, and influence, Rafa also stands out in the passing aspect: he has made 2120 in the Liga NOS and has an accuracy percentage of 76,5%.
With 16 goals scored in the Championship, the European Champion with Portugal in 2016 scores every 114 minutes and is one match away from 100 official appearances for Sport Lisboa e Benfica, an emblem he has been representing for three seasons (since 2016/17).
Text: Diogo Nascimento
Pics: João Paulo Trindade / SL Benfica